10 May 2011
At first sight, patents and standards may seem contradictory. Certainly, when defining a standard to be used by all the players in a particular market, it is indeed vital to know what is patented and what is not. However, sometimes different companies file large numbers of patents around the same technology. This may call for some specific solution, such as patent pooling. Another angle is to improve transparency.
That is why, last Friday, I signed an agreement with the International Telecommunication Union, a Geneva-based United Nations agency dealing with standardisation and co ordination of the use of radio spectrum to improve telecommunications. This agreement will create links between EPO and ITU databases, enabling the ITU to establish much more easily whether a technology is patented or not.
For the EPO, it will enhance our access to all ITU documentation. That might seem a fairly technical development but could in fact have a huge impact. For instance, in the telecommunications field we estimate that roughly 35% of all prior-art citations relevant for patent examination originate from standardisation institutions like the ITU.
The EPO is the first patent office in the world ever to sign an agreement with this body. But enriching our prior-art databases is a necessary first step on the way to raising still further the quality of our final products, and we are open to all co operation with potential to improve the patent system and enhance its impact on the innovation cycle.
Tags: agreement, co-operation, EPO, Europe, European, European Patent Office, International Telecommunication Union, ITU, market, patents, prior-art, standardisation, technology, UN-Agency